Rescuing a dog from a local rescue organization is one of the most rewarding choices you can make when it comes to adopting a new furry friend. Not only are you giving a dog a loving home, but you’re also giving them a new lease on life—potentially even saving them from an unfortunate fate.
In return, you receive a faithful companion that will stick to your side for as long as they live. However, adult rescue dogs often come with baggage and trauma that you’ll need to help them work through, and it’s often associated with other dogs. If you need to help your rescue work through social trauma, consider these essential tips for socializing a rescue dog as you begin training them.
You Must Be Patient
When you adopted your rescue, you knew the difficulty of the task you were about to undertake. Some rescued dogs adapt to their new surroundings quickly, while others are slower to lower their defenses. However long your dog takes to get comfortable, it’s important that you give them the patience they deserve.
It’s common for dogs to make progress and have a few bad days due to anxiety triggers. Love them through the hard days and recognize when you may be losing your temper or raising your voice—calming yourself can make all the difference in a frustrating situation.
Take Small Steps With Socializing Activities
Jumping straight into having your dog meet other dogs or people may not give you the positive results that you expect. Stretch your rescue’s boundaries little by little—avoid taking huge leaps forward without knowing how the dog will react.
Begin by introducing your pet to one or two people or dogs outside of their territory. They may be more aggressive at home if they’re territorial. Once they know someone well enough, see how your dog reacts when the guest enters your house. With each step, keep the interaction positive by providing your friend with treats to feed your dog and theirs, if they have one.
Once your dog seems to handle a few people or animals at a time well, then you can try to have them interact with many dogs at once. Try bringing them to a dog park, training, or a trusted dog boarding establishment. If you do board your dog, make sure you learn everything about their services before leaving them there—you’ll need to trust the handlers to know how to take care of your rescue.
Understand Your Dog’s Warning Signs and Relay Them to Guests
Generally, dogs don’t act out without giving their warning signs. Know when to stop pushing them with more socialization by recognizing the signs that they give. Some signs of a stressed-out dog include:
- Retreating to a comfortable spot
- Tail between legs
- Avoidant eyes
Your dog may have their own warning signs outside of usual aggressive behavior. Even if you follow all the essential tips for socializing a rescue dog, recognize when your pet needs space and share their red flags with any guests that come to your house—especially children.